COMMENTARY | It's been a roller-coaster season for the New York Mets in 2013.
There have been moments when it looked like their season was crumbling before our eyes. There have been other times it seemed as if Terry Collins saw his squad turning a corner.
Since the middle of June, the Mets have played great baseball. What's been most impressive and encouraging moving forward is their ability to bounce back after a tough loss. That resiliency was on display from July 19 to July 21 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
New York went 17-11 in its last 28 games before the All-Star break, and the team was primed to continue making strides toward being competitive after the Midsummer Classic. The Mets returned to action July 19 at Citi Field against the Phillies, sending Jeremy Hefner to the mound.
Hefner has had a wonderful season, but his first start of the second half was one he'd like back. Philadelphia built an 11-0 lead before the Mets could put their first run on the board. It looked similar to the 13-2 beating they received at the hands of the Washington Nationals on June 30. However, that wasn't the case.
New York scored three in the bottom of the fourth, one in the fifth, and two more in the sixth. Another two runs crossed in the ninth, but it wasn't enough to complete a comeback, losing the game by a score of 13-8. While it didn't help them improve in the standings, it was refreshing to watch the Mets' hitters keep fighting and make the game interesting after facing a huge deficit.
The real test would be how they performed the rest of the weekend. That loss was the first of 15 straight games against National League East opponents (Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Nationals and Miami Marlins). While they're 10 games out of first place and the playoffs are unlikely, they could start sending a message to the rest of the division for the future. That's what they did the rest of the weekend against Philadelphia.
After looking rusty and getting somewhat embarrassed by their divisional rival, Terry Collins ran out Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey for the final two games of the series. Wheeler allowed two runs on seven hits, two walks, and five strikeouts in just 4.2 innings pitched, but the Mets evened up the series with timely hitting late in the game. Matt Harvey secured the series victory with seven innings of shutout baseball, allowing three hits while striking out 10.
This three-game sequence is a sign of a new kind of team in Flushing. In years past, the Mets would have continued this downward spiral against divisional rivals, looking foolish on their home field. This type of play was evident last season after a 46-40 start, followed by a 28-48 record in the second half.
Players like Harvey and David Wright are helping change the atmosphere in the clubhouse, and they're creating an environment where the team doesn't stop fighting until the last out is made. Fans haven't seen a team like that since the 2006 NL East championship team.
Sandy Alderson still has plenty of work to do this winter to improve the Mets enough to be considered a playoff contender in 2014. However, it's crucial for the organization to have a solid second-half performance and win more games than in recent years. Doing so would show the fans progress is being made on the field. This resiliency is one sign that better days are right around the corner for the Mets and their fans.
There are not many things a manager has control over when he's in charge of a major league team. He can make the lineup, but he can't help players perform. He can't keep them motivated, no matter how hard he tries. Terry Collins has dealt with a lot in his tenure as skipper of the Mets, and he's finally starting to see the fruits of his labor.
The 2013 version of the Mets continually get tested with tough losses and have risen to the occasion the next day multiple times. Their next test is against the Braves. They lost a heartbreaker in the ninth inning on July 22 and bounced back the next night with a 4-1 victory.
The test will continue through the end of the season, and it will likely have a big impact on whether or not Collins remains as manager in 2014.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net.
- Sports & Recreation
- New York Mets
- Terry Collins
- Matt Harvey
- Philadelphia Phillies